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Back on the piste Canton wants ‘snow days’ to push school skiing

skiing in canton Valais

Skiers enjoy the sunshine in Belalp, canton Valais, on December 28

(Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott)

School pupils in canton Valais could soon see skiing become part of the  curriculum, under plans for students to have three obligatory snow sports days a year, the NZZ am Sonntag reports.

The newspaper quotesexternal link Valais education minister Christophe Darbellayexternal link who has proposed a new initiative to make snow sports part of the school curriculum in Valaisexternal link (education is a matter for the cantons in Switzerland).

“I am convinced that winter sport has a future,” Darbellay said. “But for this to work, we have to get young people back on their skis and there is no better way of doing this than through school.”

‘Snow days’

The project, which will cost CHF2.7 million ($2.8 million), has already been approved by the cantonal government and parliament, the newspaper says. It would start in the new school year, 2020/21.

The idea is that pupils from the third year (aged 8) onwards would spend three days a winter on the ski slopes instead of in sports halls as part of their sports lessons. The “snow days” would be obligatory, so long as the school had signed up to the scheme. Darbellay said that as the project was very attractive to schools, he expected most to sign up.

Conditions include reduced ski pass tariffs from the Valais ski regions, and fees from ski schools and sport shops for hiring equipment. Darbellay is also hoping for some knock-on economic effects for the canton, which the newspaper says has “the most skiing days of all the mountain cantons”.


Ole Rauch, of the Snow Sports Initiative Switzerlandexternal link, which promotes snow sports within schools, welcomed Darbellay’s initiative. “This offer is unique to Switzerland,” he told the NZZ am Sonntag.

There have been increased moves of late to encourage snow sports and traditional school ski camps, in which pupils spend a week in the snow.

This came following concerns that skiing and snowboarding were falling out of favour among pupils and schools. A Federal Court ruling on paid school activities – limiting parental contributions – also caused a furore. However, as recently reported, ski camps still have a place in schools.

NZZ am Sonntag/

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